Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Looking back: Do the Right Thing
Can it really be, as the Los Angeles Times reminds us, twenty years since Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing rocked the house at the Cannes Film Festival? And two decades since it opened at theaters and drive-ins everywhere during a long, hot summer it was supposed to set ablaze? I can still remember the electricity crackling throughout the Grand Palais during the first Cannes press screening of Lee's singularly audacious movie. And, yes, I can remember some otherwise intelligent people making goofs of themselves at the post-screening press conference, where they seriously pissed off Lee with questions about what they perceived as a shocking lack of on-screen drug abuse by the inner-city, mostly African-American characters. (At the time, I thought of trying to lighten the mood by noting that, hey, they weren't drinking malt liquor either -- but I opted not to run the risk of getting Lee and my fellow journalists on my case.) Here's my original review of the 1989 classic. And my original interview with Lee (along with a sidebar) about the movie that -- surprise, surprise! -- really didn't incite race riots throughout the U.S.